Hi! I'm trying hard to write something every week so that I can finish with what I planned earlier.But there are times when time is not on my side, and I'm left without any choice.So,do forgive me for the delay.
Just like before, following are the extracts from the book mentioned earlier, and I hope I haven't left out anything important!
The Luminous Bardo Of Dharmata or Chö nyi
If we fail to recognize the Ground Luminosity and thereby attain liberation,then we encounter the next bardo,the luminous bardo of dharmata or chö nyi.The author stresses that only through advanced practices of luminosity,Tögal,can the true significance of this bardo be in any real sense understood and experienced, as words can only convey some conceptual pictures of what might happen in this bardo.
The manifestation of the bardo of dharmata are called spontaneously present which means they are inherent and unconditioned,and exist in us all.Their arising is not dependent on any spiritual realization we may have;only the recognition of them is.They are not unique to Tibetans;they are a universal and fundamental experience,but the way they are perceived depends on our conditioning.Since they are by nature limitless,they have the freedom then to manifest in any form.
Therefore the deities that appears in one of its phases can take on forms we are most familiar with in our lives.for e.g.for Christian practitioners,the deities may take the form of Christ or the Virgin Mary.But in whatever form the deities appear,the whole purpose of these manifestation is actually to help us.
There are four phases involved,and each one offers another opportunity for liberation.If the opportunity is not taken,then the next phase will unfold.
1) Luminosity - The Landscape of Light
In the bardo of dharmata,you take on a body of light.The first phase of this bardo is when "space dissolves into luminosity":
Suddenly we become aware of a flowing vibrant world of sound,light,and colour.All the ordinary features of our familiar environment have melted into an all-pervasive landscape of light.This is brilliantly clear and radiant,transparent and multicoloured,unlimited by any kind of dimension or direction,shimmering and constantly in motion.Its colours are the natural expression of the intrinsic elemental qualities of the mind: space is perceived as blue light,water as white,earth as yellow,fire as red,and wind as green.
How stable these dazzling appearances of light are in this bardo depends entirely upon what stability one has managed to attain in Tögal practice and only a real mastery of this practice enables one to stabilize the experience and so use it to gain liberation.Otherwise the bardo of dharmata will simply flash by like a bolt of lightning;we will not even know that it has occurred.
2)Union- The Deities
If we are unable to recognize this as the spontaneous display of Rigpa(the innermost nature of mind),the simple rays and colours then begin to integrate and coalesce into points or balls of light of different sizes,called tiklé.Within them the "mandalas of the peaceful and wrathful deities"appear,as enormous spherical concentrations of light seeming to occupy the whole of space.
This is the second phase,known as "luminosity dissolving into union,"where the luminosity manifests in the form of buddhas or deities of various size, colour,and form,holding different attributes.The brilliant light they emanate is blinding and dazzling,the sound is tremendous,like the roaring of a thousand thunderclaps,and the rays and beams of light are like lasers,piercing everything.
These are the "forty-two peaceful and fifty-eight wrathful deities" depicted in the Tibetan Book of the Dead(the original text in tibetan is called Bardo Tödrol Chenmo,which means the "Great Liberation Through Hearing in the Bardo,and is a part of one large cycle of teachings handed down by Guru Rinpoche and revealed in the fourteenth century).This is a vision that fills the whole of our perception with such intensity that if we are unable to recognize for what it is, it appears terrifying and threatening.Sheer fear and blind panic can consume us,and we faint.
From ourself and from the deities,very fine shafts of light stream out,joining our heart with theirs.Countless luminous spheres appear in their rays,which increase and then "roll up," as the deities all dissolve into us.
If again we fail to recognize and gain stability,the next phase unfolds,called "union dissolving into wisdom."
Another fine shaft of light springs out from our heart and an enormous vision unfolds from it; however every detail remains distinct and precise.This is the display of the various aspects of wisdom,which appear together in a show of unfurled carpets of light and resplendent spherical luminous tiklés:
First,on a carpet of deep blue light appear shimmering tiklés of sapphire blue,in patterns of five.Above that,on a carpet of white light,appear radiant tiklés,white like crystal.Above,on a carpet of yellow light,appear golden tiklés,and upon that a carpet of red light supports ruby red tiklés.They are crowned by a radiant sphere like an outspread canopy made of peacock feathers.
This brilliant display of light is the manifestation of the five wisdoms:wisdom of all-encompassing space,mirror-like wisdom,equalizing wisdom,wisdom of discernment,and all accomplishing wisdom.But since the all-accomplishing wisdom is only perfected at the time of enlightenment,it does not appear yet.Therefore there is no green carpet of light and tiklés,yet it is inherent within all the other colours.What is being manifested here is our potential for enlightenment,and the all accomplishing wisdom will only appear when we become a buddha.
If we do not attain liberation here through resting undistracted in the nature of mind,the carpets of light and their tiklés,along with our Rigpa,all dissolve into the radiant sphere of light,which is like the canopy of peacock feathers.
4) Spontaneous Presence
This heralds the final phase of this bardo,"wisdom dissolving into spontaneous presence."Now the whole of reality presents itself in one tremendous display.
First the state of primordial purity dawns like an open,cloudless sky.Then the peaceful and wrathful deities appear,followed by the pure realms of the buddhas,and below them the six realms of samsaric existence.(samsara is the realm of illusion,the uncontrolled cycle of birth and death)
The limitlessness of this vision is utterly beyond our ordinary imagination.Every possibility is presented:from wisdom and liberation to confusion and rebirth.At this point we would be endowed with powers of clairvoyant perception and recollection.for example,with total clairvoyance and our senses unobstructed,we will know our past and future lives,see into others' minds,and have knowledge of all six realms of existence.In an instant we will vividly recall whatever teachings we have heard,and even teachings we have never heard will awaken in our mind.
The entire vision then dissolves back into its original essence,like a tent collapsing once its ropes are cut.
In the Tibetan book of the dead,periods of days are alloted to the experience of the bardo of dharmata.These are not solar days of twenty-four hours,because in the sphere of dharmata we have gone completely beyond all limits such as time and space.These days are "meditation days,"and refer to the length of time we have been able to rest undistracted in the nature of mind,or in one single state of mind.With no stability in meditation practice,these days could be minutely short,and the appearance of the peaceful and wrathful deities so fleeting that we cannot even register they have arisen.
The key to understanding this bardo is that all the experiences that take place in it are the natural radiance of the nature of our mind.What is happening is that different aspects of its enlightened energy are being released.Just as the dancing rainbows of light scattered by a crystal are its natural display,so too the dazzling appearances of dharmata cannot be separated from the nature of mind.They are its spontaneous expression.So,however terrifying the appearances may be,says the Tibetan Book of the Dead, they have no more claim on your fear than a stuffed lion.
If we recognize the appearances of the bardo of dharmata as the wisdom energy of our own very mind,there is no difference between perceiver and perceived,and this is the experience of non-duality.To enter into this experience completely is to attain liberation.However,now that we are no longer grounded or shielded by a physical body or world,the energies of the nature of mind released in the bardo state can look overwhelmingly real,and appear to take on an objective existence.They seem to inhabit the world outside of us.And without the stability of practice,we have no knowledge of anything that is non-dual,that is not dependent on our own perception.Once we mistake the appearances as separate from us,as "external visions,"we respond with fear or hope,which leads us into delusion,into the uncontrolled cycle of rebirth.
When the brilliant light of wisdom shines out,it is accompanied by a display of simple,comforting,cozy sounds and light,less challenging and overwhelming than the light of wisdom.These dim lights-smoky,yellow,green,blue,red,and white- are our habitual,unconscious tendencies accumulated by anger,greed,ignorance,desire,jealousy,and pride.These are the emotions that create the six realms of samsara:hell,hungry ghost,animal,human,demigod,and god realms,respectively.
If we have not recognized and stabilized the dharmata nature of mind in life,we are instinctively drawn toward the dim lights of the six realms,as the basic tendency toward grasping,which we have built up during life,begins to stir and awaken.Threatened by the dynamic brilliance of wisdom,the mind retreats.The cozy lights,the invitation of our habitual tendencies,lure us toward a rebirth,determined by the particular negative emotion that dominates our karma(action)and our mindstream.